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tag: always listening

SOUND RESEARCH LOG: On Gyrosurveillance

That fly on the wall could be the vibration of your cellphone:

“In the age of surveillance paranoia, most smartphone users know better than to give a random app or website permission to use their device’s microphone. But researchers have found there’s another, little-considered sensor in modern phones that can also listen in on their conversations. And it doesn’t even need to ask.”

From an article by Andy Greenberg at wired.com.

This entry cross-posted from the Disquiet linkblog project sound.tumblr.com.

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SOUND RESEARCH LOG: Always On: Rainforests, Sleep Disorders, More

Nick Shchetko at blogs.wsj.com/digits surveys recent app developments related to “always on” microphones.

There’s Rainforest, a chainsaw-detection tool halfway through its Kickstarter campaign.

He also lists examples that “assess the quality of sleep, explain why a baby is crying, tell you when you’re stressed, identify mental disorder, track gunshots and even help to crowd-monitor endangered cicada species.”

And then there’s BodyBeat, prototype pictured above:

A crude prototype of BodyBeat, revealed in mid-June, uses an external custom-made microphone to track body sounds, such as breath or cough, with the ambitious aim to detect illnesses or record food consumption.

The microphone is placed on the neck with a 3D-printed neckpiece, which is plugged into a small audio processing device that is wirelessly connected to a smartphone. BodyBeat authors plan to redesign the system for better usability in commercial applications.

It may sound far-fetched. But there could be plenty of market opportunities for systems like BodyBeat. Breathing sounds are indicative of lung conditions, and data on what users consume ”“ say, how often do they drink or eat certain products ”“ can provide important data for diet tracking apps.

There are certainly limitations to sound-detection technology. The quality of embedded microphones remains a concern, for one. “The problem is you can’t create a robust app because everyone is using different microphones,”said Alexander Adams, who helped develop BodyBeat.

Found thanks to Alexis Madrigal’s http://ift.tt/1lPwWYp.

This entry cross-posted from the Disquiet linkblog project sound.tumblr.com.

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SOUND RESEARCH LOG: What Will Be the Hamburger of Voice Search?

Even though it’s over two and a half years since Apple introduced Siri and almost 50 years since Douglas Rain provided the voice for Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey, we’re very much at the beginning of voice control. There are few if any norms or standards for voice commands activated by users, especially in contrast with the increasing uniformity of web design, where common elements are pervasive, such as endless scroll, small-print footers, and the three-lined “hamburger” button that signifies the presence of a menu. The norms in voice search will be accumulated in the coming years, not just thanks to decisions made by the big players, but by small initiatives, like the Tabs Board controller, a Chrome extension covered yesterday by addictivetips.com:

Voice search integration arrived in Chrome quite a while ago and it is an excellent watered down basic version of Google Now. One of the many differences between Google Now and Voice Search on Chrome is that Google Now can launch apps installed on your device while Voice Search is simply what its name implies it is with no support for any other browser function. Tabs Board is a Chrome extension that helps you switch between tabs open in a window. It also lets you search for tabs by a voice command which is what sets it apart from other tab management extensions. Both the voice search and the tab switching overlay can be opened with a keyboard shortcut that a user can customize. You can search for tabs with either a voice command or you can search and select them using the mouse. The extension lists open tabs in an overlay at the bottom of Chrome.

As with most voice commands, the product assumes that your microphone is always one. Get Tab Boards at the chrome.google.com.

This entry cross-posted from the Disquiet linkblog project sound.tumblr.com.

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SOUND RESEARCH LOG: Smartwatches Are Always Listening, LG G

The above image is from the initial promotional material for the Android-powered LG G Watch. It is showing support for “Ok Google,” which listens for that phrase as a prompt. Of course, in order to do that, the watch has to be always listening. As useful as the concierge-ish search is, of all gadgets a watch needn’t have to listen — you could just, you know, hit a button. Also from the promotional language: “It doesn’t just listen well, it communicates with you well: straight answers to spoken questions.” The initial specs don’t seem to note the inclusion of a microphone.

This entry cross-posted from the Disquiet linkblog project sound.tumblr.com.

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